Perfect Island Objection by Anselm of Canterbury

1504 WordsJun 20, 20187 Pages
Due to the preconceptions I have concerning Anselm’s Ontological Argument, as learnt through course research and lectures. I will like Descartes in his ‘First Meditation’, put these preconceptions to one side and present an essay that explores both sides of the argument in an attempt to reach an independent conclusion. However, I hope to reach the same conclusion as I had before – that is, that the Ontological Argument can be refuted on the basis that there exists a fundamental dissimilarity between the concept of existence in our minds, and that of existence in reality. This essay will present two objections to Anselm’s Ontological argument, namely, the ‘Perfect Island Objection’ and the ‘Existence is not a Predicate’ objection, whilst…show more content…
But this is not to say that they exist as things other than whatever it is that physically constitutes that person’s thoughts, so perhaps we can grant Anselm’s argument soundness so far. Anselm now notices that there is a contradiction between his definition of God, and the assumption that God does not exist. If his definition of God demands absolute, unlimited greatness, then a God who does not exist in realty could be said to be inferior to a God that does indeed exist in reality. In our imagining of a God that exists both in our understanding and in reality, we are imagining a being of which its greatness supersedes our first conception of a non-existing God. Thus, according to Anselm’s argument, our previous assumption that God does not exist in reality must in fact be false. Therefore Anselm concludes that God must exist in reality, because if this was not the case, we would be imagining a being greater than the greatest possible being we could imagine – a contradiction no less. So where do the weaknesses in the Ontological argument lie? The first main objection I will raise is what most Philosophers refer to as the ‘perfect island objection’, a version first formally proposed by the 11th-century French monk, Gaunilo, in which he named ‘the Lost Island’ refutation. This objection attempts to use the same form as Anselm’s reductio argument, only with the aim of proving the existence of a perfect island, rather than
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